Before I go any further… I respect the heart and the intentions of everyone involved. Some things do need to change.
I’d expect this to be an ongoing dialog. Please check back and drop your comments. I’d like to hear what you think. If this hurts your feelings, cool off a minute before you respond. I do expect to step on some toes but only because I care.
I’ll be honest… I’ve never been impressed with Christian Hip-Hop Radio and DJs on the whole. There are some exceptions, of course, but overall it’s been a conglomeration of disorganized people. Everyone involved has dropped the ball. For everyone who says “it’s ministry”… why is everything done so poorly? We should be embarrassed on many levels.
Getting back to the basics is where everything needs to go. Unfortunately, there are few great examples available to show how to do it “right”. Let’s hope that changes. I am a bit disappointed in the progress of the whole scene in this area. Sure we have a ton of new programs, podcasts, mobile DJs etc… but not a lot of growth in the following areas.
This goes hand in hand with the next topic I’ll share about. Reporting has always been poor at best. My personal experience is that I can send out music to about 400 DJs and radio programs playing Christian hip-hop. If I get anything… and I mean anything from 10% of that group, it’s something of a miracle. 10% SUCKS! If I have a “hot” album or track, I know well over half will call… email… text etc to ask about it. Conversely, a College Radio campaign I’ll run will see a 50-80% response rate. We can do better. If you really care, do better.
We’ve always fought an uphill battle for the format in general. Labels and artists are not going to take you seriously if you do not report to them. Develop better habits.
DJ Rhino has been the most consistent DJ I’ve worked with this year. He keeps me on my toes by asking for new music, instrumentals and other stuff. I gladly give him whatever he asks for because I hear from him EVERY WEEK. Not twice a month or whenever he feels like it… every week. He gives me a play list and also some feedback. I write him back sometimes with questions and (gasp) he replies!
We work together to serve his audience.
There is quite a bit of overlap with what I wrote about above. Let’s face it… Labels in our scene are terrible with it. So are DJs, unless they have something to complain about. Real talk.
We need one another.
A label/promoter/artist’s responsibilities:
- Get DJs/Radio shows new music
Provide information as needed (news, press, tour info etc)
Request play lists and reports for everyone who receives music
A DJ/Radio programs responsibilities:
- Process, ingest and test new music
Challenge your listeners with play list diversity (fun/serious, pop/indie… variety)
Report play lists to everyone who sends you music
For those of you who are members of record pools, report. If you have a direct relationship with any record labels or promoters, give them the information directly. These people are your life line to music. You could always buy it but you should never have to. There is nothing better than an awesome working relationship between a DJ and a record label or promoter. It makes things a bit more fun for everyone and it feels good at the end of the day. Plus it’s a great way to promote your show and also score paying mobile gigs. If someone calls me an asks for a DJ to spin their 10,000 person event, guess who I’m going to recommend? The most professional and consistent few DJs I know.
A good report looks like this:
- Personal notes, greetings, show highlights etc
Your contact information and info about when/where your show airs
A list of everything you played (in play order or alphabetically by artist)
Get into the habit of sending it right after your show airs. If you’re a label, schedule time to communicate with your contacts twice a month (or weekly if you have enough useful info to share). Everyone… make a contact list. A spreadsheet even.
A quick note on mass emails… use BCC (Blind Carbon Copy). Seriously. Nothing more annoying than having someone jack your list or hit “reply all” to spam your relationships with their stuff. It’s very unprofessional on both ends.
If you don’t know how… ask for help!
You’re nodding your head right now in agreement. Good. Now get down to it and DO IT. I am going to!
I’ve been on both ends… receiving and sending out music. This one is real simple. Find out what people need and provide it. Make it easy. If I have to jump through all sorts of hoops, I’m deleting your email.
Relationship is forgiving. If your approach is to be super casual (read: sloppy) with people you don’t have a good working relationship… YOU ARE DOOMED. Don’t do it. Spell check your email. Read it aloud. Bullet points are nice. Clear and easy. Visually attractive emails are cool too but isn’t what will score you airplay or more music from your favorite rep.
Learn what the other side needs and find efficient plus effective ways to deliver. We’re all busy. I skim your emails. Not because I don’t care but because I don’t have a ton of time like I wish. If I did have the time, it’s probably just going to be filled with something other than email.
Do not just add people to your list! It’s incredibly annoying, unprofessional and… annoying! Perhaps the email contact isn’t the best one to be sending your reports to. Ask. Perhaps your email blast about a single is going to a DJs work email… not good. Ask.
If your contact information changes or needs updating please tell people about it. No wonder you aren’t getting music from me… you’ve changed email accounts a bunch of times and (woops) forgot to tell me! I (as a radio promoter) want to stay in touch… trust me.
What does a label need for servicing?
Your contact information and anything they need to know about your show/audience. Keeping this available to them and current will pay dividends. Discuss how you’ll report and if they have any special requirements.
They also need to know if you prefer hard copy or digital. Keep in mind, most labels just aren’t sending out hard copy material anymore. It’s mostly about costs. Don’t take it personal. In the last 10 plus years I’ve sent out tens of thousands of promos. Looking back, I probably should have been more selective. I sent music to a lot of people who… well… I didn’t know if they were even alive because they never communicated with me.
What does a DJ or radio program need for servicing?
Information about the artist (link to the bio), access to hi-res album covers and press shots (a link to your Media section will do), a download copy of the song. Some require lyrics before they will consider it for airing. Your contact information is good to make available.
If done well, these can be effective in helping DJs get music and help record labels reach more DJs. Personally, I haven’t had much success. Secular record pools have always been awesome for me.
I keep hearing that I’ll receive feedback on stuff I’ve sent out but… don’t often see much follow through. I’ve jumped through all the hoops to submit music (even sending boxes of CDs) and it hasn’t turned out so well. Lots of work to do here. My experiences with Christian pools have been discouraging to the point where I question their purpose. Hopefully that will change.
I’ve already mentioned quite a few things to keep in mind. Being professional can foster some really awesome relationships and opportunities.
Do what you say you’re going to do.
I hear a lot of excuses but don’t see much positive growth. It makes me wonder if “this” will ever work or if it’s fixable. Prove my doubts wrong.